Will Apple's iPhone 5 launch a new era for e-waste recycling?

The rapidly-growing e-waste recycling industry eagerly waiting for the release of the new iPhone 5, as smartphone users around the world are ready to ditch their old phones and embrace the new. E-waste recyclers are at the ready to accept their offerings. But will all the hype of the potential market truly be a turning point for the industry – or simply another marketing tool to make consumers aware that their electronic devices are indeed recyclable?

Many e-waste companies were not quiet about their anticipation of the new iPhone.

"There are going to be millions of people buying the new iPhone 5,” said ecoATM chairman and CEO Tom Tullie in a press release. “When they do, we want there to be an ecoATM nearby for them to cash in or recycle their old phones.”

Tuile's San Diego-based company recently expanded installation of its cell phone buy-back kiosks in malls across the country. The company’s automatic, self-service kiosks evaluate and purchase old and broken phones and are reportedly able to refurbish 75 percent of the devices it collects.

The U.S. Postal Service is working with the e-waste group MaxBack on a marketing program to buy back smart phones. And metals giant Green Technology Solutions (GTSO) has also been gearing up for the change. Its mining subsidiary plans to purchase the U.S. e-waste recycler GlobalCellBuyers. GTSO has also entered into negotiations with another e-waste recycling firm in Latin America.

Nearly 2.5 million tons of electronics were discarded just in the U.S. in 2010, creating “an incredible windfall of lithium, gold, neodymium, rare earths and other valuable materials headed for the dump,” said GTSO CEO Paul Watson. “Soon, we plan to send it to the bank, instead.”

Smart phone recycling image by Pavel Ignatov via Shutterstock.

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